03 March, 2015
New Delhi, 3rd March, 2015: The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that the Kerala Government was targeting human rights defenders and rights activists by labeling them as ‘Maoists sympathizers’. Human rights defenders and advocates Tushar Nirmal Sarathy and Jaison C. Cooper had been arrested under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in Kerala and were in jail since the 30th January, 2015. While Jaison was arrested from Cochin on the 29th January, 2015, Tushar was arrested after a press conference in Kozhikode on the same day.
The Commission has observed that the contents of the press report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of human rights defenders. It has issued a notice to the Director General of Police, Kerala calling for a report within two weeks.
Reportedly, both Tushar and Jaison were actively engaged in peasants’ struggles against land acquisition, illegal rock quarrying, forcible evictions, and the violation of labour rights of migrant workers in Kerala as well as struggles against various polluting industries.